Top Education Stories You Don’t Want to Miss: March 19 – March 25, 2022

Student Leaders at Gary Comer Middle School Leave Their Mark

By The Noble Schools

“This is part of a series of blogs from Noble campus representatives to give a deeper look at campus life. Staff celebrated as a group of 20 new student leaders – dressed up in their own versions of success – strutted down the halls of Gary Comer Middle School. Nervously, the middle school students gathered in the fitness room, getting ready for their first Principal Honor Society summit. As they loaded the bus, their muted chatter filled the air with excitement and anticipation for what the day would bring. And what the day brought was great opportunities for these students to learn about leadership and an amazing discussion that centered their voice on an important school-wide rule.”


Applications Open for Diverse Leaders Fellowship at Noble Schools

By The Noble Schools

“Applications are now open for this year’s Diverse Leaders Fellowship (DLF) at Noble Schools. DLF is Noble’s longest-running leadership program, having nurtured a village of over 120 fellows and mentors since 2018. This 9-month-long program is designed to identify and invest in Noble’s emerging, intersectional leaders of color. It also aims to strengthen the educational leadership pipeline within Noble, Chicago, and beyond, and continue to build on our vision for diversity, equity, and inclusion at Noble.”


Forty percent of CPS schools to see budget cuts amid enrollment declines

By Sarah Karp for WBEZ Chicago

“Despite a huge influx of federal COVID-19 relief money, 40% of Chicago public school principals were told Friday they would have roughly the same or less money to spend in the fall, even as they have to pay more to teachers and staff who are promised raises in the union contract. Affected schools saw enrollment declines this year, school district officials emphasized in a briefing on Friday. Total student enrollment this school year dropped by more than 10,000 students as part of a downward slide.”


Chicago Public Schools eyes Aug. 22 for the first day of school this fall, the earliest opening in years

By Tracy Swartz for The Chicago Tribune 

“The Chicago Board of Education is poised to set Aug. 22 as the start of the fall semester for Chicago Public Schools students. The board is scheduled to vote on the 2022-23 academic calendar at Wednesday’s meeting. The vote comes one month after the district asked parents to weigh in on two proposed fall start dates: Aug. 22 and Aug. 29. School traditionally began the day after Labor Day. This year CPS welcomed students back a week before the holiday for the first time since the 2013-14 school year. Around 400 people recently signed an online petition calling for the district to return to a September start. Ravenswood Elementary parent Fran Tobin said having a shorter summer for the second year in a row is the wrong approach during the COVID-19 pandemic, and school communities should have had an opportunity to weigh in before the options were winnowed down to two.”


Chicago school board ‘discouraged’ by district’s spending on academic, mental health support: ‘This is an emergency’

By Mauricio Pena and Mila Koumpilova for Chalkbeat

“This series seeks to amplify efforts to better support the wellness of students and school staff during this challenging comeback year. Some Chicago school board members are urging the district to pick up the pace on its federally-funded push to address the pandemic’s academic and mental health fallout, saying the money isn’t being spent fast enough to meet the immediate needs of students. The district has so far spent only 12%, or $62.9 million, on a two-year, half-billion dollar initiative called Moving Forward Together, which was designed to help students bounce back from COVID disruption. And it has made use of less than 7% of its $1.8 billion allocation under the Biden administration’s American Rescue Plan, the third and final round of federal COVID relief dollars. District officials said they have run into a slew of hurdles to spending the money faster: The delta and omicron variants diverted energy from academic recovery efforts, and the national “Great Resignation” made it harder to line up the staffing needed to roll out new programs to support students. CEO Pedro Martinez also noted that the district had to spend dollars from earlier federal relief funding rounds first, and that not all expenses are included in the American Rescue Plan figures because the district hasn’t reported them to the state.”


Chicago Public Schools is flush with federal COVID-19 relief cash but is spending little of it

By Sarah Karp for WBEZ

“As they prepared to welcome students back to in-person learning last summer, Chicago Public Schools officials laid out how they planned to use federal COVID-19 relief money to help students heal from the emotional and academic turmoil caused by the pandemic. After all, the school district was flush with cash. It received $1.8 billion through the American Rescue Plan to spend by September 2024. But now, as the end of the school year is in sight, much of that money hasn’t been spent, and few of those programs have come to fruition. About 69% of the $536 million budgeted this year — some $370 million — is unspent. It’s either simply uncommitted or committed to positions or goods or services that have yet to be filled or purchased, according to a WBEZ analysis of CPS American Rescue Plan spending as of last month.”